Saturday, October 24, 2015

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From Augustine to Anselm, logic and faith working together

There is no conflict whatsoever between faith and reason.

by Ferdinand III

Anselm's and his import on European thinking and philosophy was built upon from the efforts of many who both previously and contemporaneously, developed a rational exploration theology, including curricula taught at Universities – another medieval European invention. Anselm in the 11th century and Peter Lombard in the 12th are examples of the inquiring mind using reason to achieve faith; or using reason to amend faith.

There never has been, and never will be, a conflict between true faith [as opposed to a cult]; and reason. Atheist cults such as Nazism [socialist, evolutionist]; Communism [socialist, evolutionist], or Fascism [ibid, ibid]; deny reason. They are cults not of faith, but obedience, intolerance, hate and irrationality. Islam, a barbaric bronze age centric cult merging the spiritual into the political, is likewise similar in design and output to other fascistic philosophies. There is no reason within Mein Koran.  Christianity is suffused with logic and reason. 

St. Augustine the ne'er do well, turned Saint and Catholic philosopher of the highest caliber, published many works which could be summarized as 'understanding through faith'. The City of God, was of a different plane of existence than the City of Man. By having faith, the Augustinians would argue, you have an opportunity to engage in true reason and logic. Anselm approaches the issue of faith differently. He does not assume God exists, he first sets out to prove it, with an ontological statement. This logic is clear, and though non-believers will never be convinced by it, there is no sound logical argument against it.

In essence Anselm attempted to show that the doctrine of God belief is eminently rational. It certainly appears more reasonable than the naturalist who sees order arising out of chaos [it never does] or that chance, or processes which offend basic laws of physics and bio-chemistry, somehow created all the vast complexities of life on Earth [chance and time mean nothing, a cat will always be a cat].

Anselm uses logic to defend the incarnation and the atonement in his work "Cur Deus Homo ?" [Why God became man]. The book is a rational approach to the natures of Christ [man and God], his birth, his death and resurrection and why it all happened. There is no fundamental 'sola scriptura' one sees later from the Protestants. Anselm uses the Bible, but not as the 'answer', he uses scripture as part of the process of analysis and logic, to examine the proof, or reasonableness, that God became man.

Anselm's approach back in the 11th century, whilst not strictly confined to himself, defined an important movement within Christendom. He was a man of faith, an Archbishop of Canterbury, a man of substance, power and influence. Yet he uses not power, scolding, or thumping of text to win people over, but quiet logic. He demonstrates an assurance and a complete confidence, that through reasoned discussion one can prove; "that all things we believe concerning Christ must necessarily take place."

Most importantly Anselm presents a positive, engaging approach, in using reason to support faith, and using faith to better understand our reason.